SOMERSET AND ALL THE MAUGHAMS by Robin Maugham

SOMERSET AND ALL THE MAUGHAMS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This title was borrowed from a line by Noel Coward and it aptly describes a thoroughly engaging personal book which is a mixture of memoir cum genealogy cum record- straightener. The author's father was Lord Chancellor of England and his uncle was the High Priest of successful storytellers and they cordially detested each other to the grave. Two things the Maugham brothers seem to have agreed on in their dotage -- that family history was a waste of money and time and that (this on the verge of 90) they had both been inflicted with frail constitutions. Robin Maugham, a successful novelist and scenarist, had nearly completed his research on the family just before Somerset Maugham's death. He turned up some entertaining and intriguing material on their English forebears, and an American branch. These are casual inserts among the most compelling passages of his book, which deal with the immediate background of Somerset Maugham and with aspects of Maugham's life and books. A portrait of the artist as an old man emerges which is neither sentimental nor indulgent. The last difficult years saw the master storyteller wrenched by turns of depression and a waspishness in conversation that often became vicious. He wept and bewailed his mother's death, his own homosexuality and attitude toward it right into his last days. In discussing this open secret, Robin Maugham is quite frank and unsensational although it is this view of his Uncle Willie's relationship to his younger secretary/companions that will stimulate more than the usual amount of comment reserved for partial autobiography.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1966
Publisher: New American Library